Zuma: Education report results disappointing
Cape Town - The results of the government's first annual national assessment of literacy and numeracy levels at schools were "disappointing" but would help to measure the impact of education programmes, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
"While the results in themselves were disappointing, they inform the nation about where exactly performance is good or not," Zuma said in a statement.
"The results demonstrate that where literacy and numeracy programmes are implemented effectively and in a focused manner such as in Gauteng and the Western Cape, performance is enhanced.
"The ANA [Annual National Assessments] results also enable government to identify points in the system where province, district or school intervention is needed."
Zuma said experts would work with government's oversight and delivery unit to help provinces implement programmes to strengthen teaching and learning and improve the quality of basic education.
He said the findings showed "the correctness" of government's decision to make education a top priority and the new assessment system would enable the state to "accurately measure on an annual basis the impact of specific programmes and interventions".
Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education said the findings "should serve as a pointer of where the problem is; as an indicator of the direction we should take and as a gauge of the interventions we should bring into the system.
"Good or bad, these results are a benchmark that should rekindle the greater vision of the department," committee chairperson Hope Malgas said.
The assessment results released on Tuesday showed that the national average performance for literacy was 35% and for numeracy 28% among Grade 3 pupils, while only 12% of Grade 6 pupils scored 50% or more for mathematics.
Basic Education Minister Angi Motshekga described the findings as "very sad".
Noting that a pupil's first five years at school were a "make or break" watershed in his or her development, she said the assessment showed there had been an under-emphasis in education on basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic.
The assessment was conducted among six million so-called foundation phase (Grades 1 to 3) and intermediate phase (Grades 4 to 6) pupils attending government schools in February.